Oscar Wilde still manages to intrigue us. Did he really die of meningitis or was it syphilis? Wilde left us an impressive legacy, which still is very popular today. This Irish writer and poet is remembered for the work he wrote in the nineteenth century.
About the poet
The life of Wilde (full name Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde) is a different one from most of the writers of the nineteenth century. At the time Wilde lived, homosexuality was considered to be a crime and he was sent to prison during his life. Even though Wilde was married to Constance Lloyd, he had an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, son of the Marquis of Queensberry. When the marquis found out about this affair, he send a card to Wilde with the text: “Oscar Wilde: Posing Somdomite.” Yes, there was a spelling error in the message that Wilde received. The reaction to this letter was to start a trial against the marquis. This was a big mistake, because the legal representation of the marquis presented evidence of his sexuality. They referred to the writings of Wilde and presented love letters sent by Wilde to Douglas. The trial was dismissed because of this evidence. Instead Wilde was arrested and sent to prison in 1895. Two years later, he was released from prison. He had nothing left; no money, no marriage (his wife changed her name to Holland and refused Wilde to see his children). Since there wasn’t much of a future in his country, he decided to exile in France. The most important work he wrote – he didn’t wrote much during this time- was The Ballad of reading Gaol in 1898, two years before he died.
There is still much discussion of the cause of death of Wilde. According to the official death certificate, Wilde suffered meningitis and died because of this illness. But this illness might have been the result of syphilis.
Wilde died on November 30 1900. He was buried in the Cimetière de Bagneux just outside Paris. Nine years after his death, his remains were transferred to Père Lachaise Cemetery inside Paris. Great minds like Edit Piaf, Jim Morrison, Karel Appel, Georges Bizet and Frédéric Chopin were also buried at this cemetery.
About the poem
Why this poem? Wilde’s marriage wasn’t really an example of how an marriage should end. All because Wilde couldn’t be the person who he wanted to be.
The full title of this poem is To my wife – with a copy of my poems. It’s a message that is to accompany a gift that a husband gives to his wife. If we use a more open minded view: a gift to a loved one. The gift itself is a series of poems, combined with one poem (this poem). The usage of lay refers to a group of poems.
To my wife – with a copy of my poems
By Oscar Wilde
I can write no stately proem
As a prelude to my lay;
From a poet to a poem
I would dare to say.
For if of these fallen petals
One to you seem fair,
Love will waft it till it settles
On your hair.
And when wind and winter harden
All the loveless land,
It will whisper of the garden,
You will understand.
And there is nothing left to do
But to kiss once again, and part,
Nay, there is nothing we should rue,
I have my beauty,-you your Art,
Nay, do not start,
One world was not enough for two
Like me and you.